This weekend was one I have really been excited to arrive at. The ADF Imbolc Retreat held at the UBarU Unitarian Retreat facility is a gathering of mostly ADF Druids to celebrate Imbolc together. Two years ago, I happened to make the event thanks to a gracious invitation from the group that puts this on each year – Hearthstone Grove. Last year, I had plans to go, but wound up being held back by work requirements. This year, I took no chances, and burned a day of vacation for Friday. And I am so thrilled that I did.
Many of the people that attend are friends of mine on Facebook…and while interacting with them on Facebook is great – there is nothing that replaces the lovely greetings and hugs I received from so many of them upon my arrival on Friday. Seemingly, I am the only individual who has not cross-pollinated between OBOD and ADF, but that didn’t matter one bit. I considered so many of these folks as my extended family, that it was just great to see them. It was even better to get chances to talk to all of them throughout the entire weekend. Whether at meal-time, sitting out by the fire, or up on the porch…conversations were excellent times to catch up, tell jokes, and strengthen the bonds we have had since I met most of these people two years ago.
And that does not take into account the large number of new people that I met. Same areas, new conversations, laughing and carrying – and even discussing differences in religious perspective as if we were grizzled scholars and philosophers waiting for our eventual turns to swim in the sacred spring. Absolutely amazing people. And a good reminder to this Solo Pagan that community is still a necessary part of life – even when I tend to do most of my religious ceremonies on my own.
Twice during the weekend, I found Crow nudging me and pushing me to do things I normally would not. I normally would not move to the fire and provide an offering. I did. I pulled up some of the grass near my feet, and approached the fire. By the time I took my fourth step to the fire – I had no idea what I was doing or what I was saying. By the time I found my focus, I heard the words “Water is Life!” being echoed back at me from others. I realized I had said something, and asked that my offering be accepted. I’m still a little unsure of what exactly I said…but I’m not totally sure that matters. The primary point was that I had been pushed to step out, and step up. When I returned to where I stood at the edges of the ring around the fire, I heard the soft whispers of Fliodhas in my ear: “That is what you do. Be that Priest. Without reservation, without shame.”
The second time was that very next morning (Sunday). Long before the sun came up, I got up, and took a shower. Unlike the previous night, there were a few people up and moving. I conversed with a few of them before I grabbed my staff and went to the top of the hill above the cabins. I stood on the small dirt road, looked down at the cabins below, and felt Crow on my shoulder.
Family matters. Down there is family. Give them honor. They are precise and necessary for you to grow further. Learn this lesson now. They are more than the lesson will provide.
I gripped my staff at the midway point with my right-hand, and held it parallel to the ground, high over my head and I gave thanks to Crow, Coyote and Fliodhas for being with me. I gave thanks to the Gods and Goddesses that the (mostly) slumbering group down the hill from me had been brought safely here. Family, extended or whatever adjective the world may add to that, is important to me.
There were so many awesome conversations that took place as well, which are turning into blog posts for the near and long-term future. There is no doubt that I will come away from Pantheacon with even more topics to push into my brain meats.
Conversations on the new, younger generation of Pagans that all seem to be younger than I ever remember myself being – and how I fit into all of that, even as a Solo Pagan (as a side note, I need to dress as a red-solo cup to one of these gatherings – because that’s what I think of when I call myself a Solo Pagan). Conversations on how programming syntax can be construed as spell-casting – and the ways that matrix can be applied to so many other aspects of life. Conversations on relationships with the Gods, Goddesses, Spirits of Place, Spirits of Ancestor…and even Spirits of Time can have reflections of our own relationships of others mirrored within that paradigm. And conversations on that intersection between time, relationships with the Gods, relationships with one another, and how we approach our lives outside of ritual and magick.
All of that percolates my mind into blog posts….and writings in my journal. And all of that came out of time spent with these wonderful folks in under seventy hours. And with me up near the Oklahoma/Texas border…and most of these folks in cities and town to the south of me, I actively wonder how different my life might be with more constant and consistent contact with them. I do wonder…but in Akiro’s infamous words (and slightly twisted by me), that is a blog for another time….